This comes as a result of receiving approval from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), which voted to approve Waymo's plans to establish a manufacturing presence to build self-driving vehicles in the state. Waymo is putting up $13.6 million for the project and received an $8 million grant from MEDC.
Waymo will first identify a facility in Southeast Michigan and, over the next few years, aim to create hundreds of local jobs in the community. The company will be looking for engineers, operations experts, and fleet coordinators to join its team and help assemble and deploy self-driving vehicles. This will be the world’s first factory 100% dedicated to the mass production of Level 4 autonomous vehicles. Level 4 indicates the vehicles are truly self-driving, but under limited circumstances.
Waymo develops hardware and software in-house so that its self-driving technology works as a seamless, single system. Part of that process is integrating the self-driving system into the vehicles in Waymo's fleet, including Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Jaguar Land Rover. Waymo already has local engineers working to outfit the company's Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivans with Waymo technology.
The company indicated that snowy conditions seen in the state of Michigan could be beneficial for testing the autonomous vehicles in their fleet.